|Volume 7, Issue 14||July 8, 2015|
Is there a future for Amtrak?
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Amtrak has become an icon. More than 31 million riders depend on it and it is hard to imagine what will happen if the railway ceases to exist.
Since 1970, when Congress first authorized it, Amtrak has been on tenuous ground. It was created as a publicly funded, privately run, for-profit corporation and Congress hoped it would become self- supporting. That never happened. Supporters point out, however, that airlines, public transit and highways are all subsidized.
Congress now requires states to pick up a bigger part of the tab for all Amtrak routes shorter than 750 miles. That statute affects 19 states and nearly half of Amtrak's ridership.
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|Michigan Senate OK's $1.5B plan to address road issues|
Proposes increase in fuels tax, redirecting of other resources to close funding gap Like many other states, Michigan is facing increasing road rehabilitation and maintenance issues - with less and less funding to pay for them. However, the Michigan State Senate recently approved a $1.5 billion plan to fix those roads and will urge an increase in state fuel taxes and redirection of money in other areas of the budget to help close the funding gap. It wasn't an easy vote, with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (pictured) breaking a 19-19 tie in the Senate.
The plan revolves around annual cuts in the state income tax starting in 2018 if general revenues rise by more than inflation. Helping to add to general revenues would be the proposed increase in both the diesel and gasoline taxes. The
15-cents-per-gallon diesel tax would be brought closer to the current gasoline tax of 19 cents per gallon. Then, both would be increased to 34 cents per gallon by 2017, with future increases tied to inflation. The increases, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency, would generate $822 million annually once fully phased in.
"Our people just want our roads fixed. This advances that debate and that discussion," said Calley. "This was a step I felt was necessary in order for us to really get to a final compromise."
The annual diversion of $700 million from the state's $9.9 billion general fund would mean other agencies and entities, such as schools and universities, would take a big hit, as would local governments. One senator called it "the wrong way to fund our roads."
After voters in May said no to a referendum that would have increased the sales tax and increased fuel taxes as a way to increase revenues for roads, schools and municipalities, the Michigan House proposed a $1.2 billion plan that would increase the diesel tax to be in line with the gas tax, tied to inflation in the future. It also would have dedicated $900 million in state general funds for roads and would also increase registration fees for hybrid and electric vehicles and eliminate certain tax credits.
The Senate proposal was in response to the House plan and would increase the gas tax to 23 cents in October, 27 cents next January and 34 cents in 2017, with future increases tied to inflation. It, too, increased hybrid and/or electric car fees and proposed the possible income tax reduction.
While many say Michigan residents will buy into a legitimate proposal to fix the state's roads, Americans for Prosperity State Director Pete Lund noted that Michigan motorists already pay some of the highest gas taxes in the country, adding that "40 percent of the state taxes paid at the pump don't fund roads." He said he is hopeful lawmakers can find a solution that does not include tax increases.
|$650M terminal project to begin soon in New Orleans |
Contracting opportunities will be plentiful at Louis Armstrong International Airport Contracting opportunities for the $650 million North Terminal project at the Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans will begin soon, now that the design portion of the project is nearing completion. Once the design is complete, the city's construction manager will begin seeking contractors for different aspects of the project.
The city chose a construction manager-at-risk for the project. "One of the benefits of having a construction manager-at-risk is that they are involved during the design process," said Director of Aviation Iftikhar Ahmad (pictured) when it was decided to go that route for construction of the terminal. "The construction manager-at-risk reviews the design documents and provides valuable input based on their expertise in constructability, sequencing and scheduling, all prior to construction."
Completion of the construction documents for the terminal will be followed by a 30-day period in which the construction manager will have time to make its decisions on contractors. The manager will also finalize the maximum price it will charge for the project, which has been estimated to be $546.5 million. Although $650 million is budgeted, the remainder will be used for design costs, an environmental study and other administrative expenses.
Unlike traditional construction contracts, in a construction manager-at-risk situation, that manager is responsible for hiring and overseeing construction, and the manager-at-risk takes on the risk for any cost overruns. A guaranteed maximum price is set by the manager-at-risk.
The new terminal is expected to be open by May 2018. There are currently 33 available project packages. A second round of bidding will take place July 27, at which time it will be decided who wins the projects.
|Other contracting opportunities|
Dallas County officials announce plans for remodeling of major facility downtown
Dallas County's downtown Records Complex facility is about to undergo a major facelift. County officials recently announced that they will hire a project management firm to oversee what will be an extensive renovation. In addition to the renovations, officials are also considering adding floors to the existing building to be used for residential space or private offices. County Administrator Darryl Martin (pictured) said the cost of the project will likely be more than $100 million and that it could start as early as next year. The Records Complex includes three buildings built during different eras and patched together. A committee that lately has been studying aging county buildings recommended that county commissioners take a long, hard look at the Records Complex as a priority for renovations. The complex reportedly has leaking pipes, failing HVAC systems and a pest problem that has resulted in wiring that has been chewed apart. This summer, the county will likely hire a project management team that includes architects, who will be in charge of the renovation efforts. The interior demolition could start early next year. Among the upgrades would be a new roof, new plumbing and new electrical systems. A short-term loan will likely be used to finance the project.
Salisbury, Massachusetts, seeking bids for new 17,000-square-foot police station
Bids are being sought by the town of Salisbury, Massachusetts, for construction of a new police station. Once a contractor is chosen and a contract inked, construction on the 17,000-square-foot, two-story, $11.5 million station can begin. The voter-approved police headquarters will take approximately 14 months to complete. According to Police Chief Thomas Fowler, calls for police services have increased by 32 percent in the last six months and there has been a 3.5 percent increase in motor vehicle accidents. While grants totaling $172,000 have helped the police department deal with pressing law enforcement issues, voters were asked to approve the funding for the new police station.
Jacksonville will borrow $17.4 million to defray capital project expenses
The city of Jacksonville, Tennessee, is planning to borrow $17.4 million that will pay for capital projects across the city over the next three years. The funds will be used for road repairs, park upgrades, fire equipment and police cars. The city has a commitment to ensure that public safety officials are outfitted with quality equipment. "Public safety is critical," said Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist (pictured) "That's the function of government. Should be the first priority." A new fire truck, which carries a price tag of $360,000, is on the city's list of planned purchases. The new truck is necessary because officials say current trucks are more than 20-25 years old. Repair costs are escalating and officials say it makes sense to purchase new equipment rather than continue throwing money at aging equipment to keep it operational.
Numerous contracting opportunities listed for El Paso area
A variety of contracting opportunities are now available in the El Paso area. The Education Service Center Region 19 Allied States Cooperative is requesting bids for maintenance, repair and operation supplies and equipment. The El Paso Water Utilities is requesting bids for on-call demolition services. Two transportation-related bids are open through the Texas Department of Transportation. One is for bids for miscellaneous work for Highway FM 76 in El Paso County and the other is from an off-system bridge replacement on Highway CS in El Paso County. The City of El Paso is requesting bids for police patrol motorcycles. The State of New Mexico has two bids open - both from the General Services Department, Purchasing Division. One is for concrete ready mix in District 6 and the other is for transportation equipment repair and maintenance. The Gadsden Independent School District is requesting bids for construction of Desert Pride Academy-2015 Phase 2 Part 2 with a mandatory pre-proposal conference on July 14. Dona Ana County in New Mexico is seeking bids for uniforms for county departments.
Donations will help UNLV construct academic building for hotel college
The University of Nevada Las Vegas is planning construction of a new academic building, with a lot of financial help. The facility will be used for the university's hotel college. Donations totaling $7.5 million from the gambling industry have been made toward the project. That includes gifts of $25 million each from MGM Resorts International, Boyd Gaming and Station Casinos. Those funds will help construct Hospitality Hall, a new academic building for the $56 million Harrah Hotel College. The new 93,000-square-foot facility will feature views of the Las Vegas Strip and serve as a bridge to the hospitality and gambling industry. It will include laboratory and meeting space and will have a student-run cafe, a teaching kitchen, interactive digital classroom and an outdoor plaza. These latest gifts bring the total money raised for the project to nearly $16 million. The state legislature also has agreed to commit $24.4 million toward the construction.
City in Oregon OK's budget that includes water system improvements
Part of the $15.1 million budget approved recently by officials in the city of Scappoose, Oregon, will go toward water system improvements. This year's budget is about $1.4 million over last year's and officials say the biggest part of that increase will go toward water infrastructure. Among the projects are a new well at Dutch Canyon and repairs to the city's two water facilities. In addition to city funding through the budget, an additional amount of funding will come from a $5 monthly increase for water services that will go into effect in November. That will be tacked onto an increase of $12.50 per month that was approved for wastewater rates that took effect this month.
Houston awarded nation's 10th spaceport license for Ellington Field
The city of Houston has earned a license to become the 10th commercial spaceport in the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a license for Ellington Field in Houston. The spaceport is expected to become a modern airport hub for launch of future space flights that will carry people and cargo into space. "It is very exciting for us. This gives Houston a very different perspective," said Arturo Machuca (pictured), general manager of Ellington Airport. As a spaceport, Ellington is expected to create thousands of jobs and see cash flow of billions of dollars. Machuca called the designation a "magnet" for attracting general industry and the aerospace industry. The Houston Airport System (HAS) now can move forward in establishing required infrastructure and support facilities. HAS two years ago released drawings of what the spaceport could look like, including a passenger terminal building and aviation museum.
RFP expected soon for preliminary engineering for downtown LA streetcar
Expect a request for proposals (RFP) to be issued soon for a design firm for preliminary engineering for the proposed downtown Los Angeles streetcar. L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar said in a statement that the nonprofit Los Angeles Streetcar Inc., which is supporting the project, would issue an RFP "in the coming weeks." Design and completion of an environmental impact report could take up to a year. The project is expected to be a public-private partnership (P3) and supporters say getting preliminary engineering done will help come closer to determining figures close to actual costs, which will also allow partners in the project to determine what their costs could be. Huizar said hiring a financial adviser will be an upcoming task for creating a P3. The proposed downtown streetcar would run on a 3.8-mile loop along First Street, Broadway, 11th Street, Figueroa Street, Seventh Street or Ninth Street and Hill Street. Officials hope to see the first riders by 2020. The project has $367.5 million in committed local funding for capital and 30-year operations.
California agency approves millions for many of state's infrastructure needs
Funds to rebuild and maintain local and state infrastructure throughout the state have been approved by the California Transportation Commission (CTC). The agency will set aside $561 million that will go toward 125 transportation projects statewide. Some of the funds will be used for projects that help lead to the use of alternative transportation means, such as walking and biking. The funds will support 32 pedestrian and biking projects in the state, with $8.5 million coming from the Active Transportation Program. Not only will the money help fund future projects, but it is also going to some projects that are already under way. "At Caltrans, we are working to not only preserve our investments in the state highway system, but are also investing in projects that expand the availability of bike and pedestrian access throughout the state," California Department of Transportation Director Malcolm Dougherty (pictured) said. "Allocations like those made today help us to ensure the state's transportation system will support and benefit Californians for decades to come."
|Who's winning government contracts?|
Check out these recent awards:
- RCM Technologies, Inc. has won a four-year, $30 million contract from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to manage hiring, staffing and training of nurses for CPS as its exclusive vendor for nursing services. CPS has the option to renew the contract for an additional two years after the initial term.
- O. Trevino Construction, LLC was awarded a $989,766 contract by the Texas Department of Transportation to rehabilitate and resurface 4.6 miles of State Highway 34 in two Terrell, Texas, locations. The first location will be from I-20 to US 80 and the second will be from Spur 87 to Terrell State Hospital.
- Granite Construction Incorporated was awarded a $39 million contract by the San Diego Association of Governments to construct new bus rapid transit stations along State Route 15 at El Cajon Boulevard and University Avenue in San Diego County.
- Messer Construction Co. was awarded a $24.1 million contract by the Department of Defense to build a major 58,000-square-foot expansion of the Foreign Materials Exploitation Laboratory at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, doubling the size of the lab.
- Crossland Construction Company, Inc. was awarded a $4.7 million contract from the city of Allen, Texas, for reconstruction of the city's Fire Station No. 2.
- Pacific Infrastructures Construction LLC was awarded a $1.1 million contract from Napa County, California, to replace a deteriorating, storm-damaged culvert that carries Napa River headwaters under Greenwood Avenue near Calistoga with a new bridge.
- J.A. Alexander won a $4.82 million contract from the city of Paterson, New Jersey, for road construction projects that include reconstructing roads in 5th and 6th Wards.
- The Harris Corporation won a 20-year, $70.7 million contract from New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board for the design, construction and maintenance of an enhanced radio system for the MTA Police Department.
- Tooles Contracting Group was awarded a $28 million contract by the Detroit Downtown Development Authority for work on the new Detroit Events Center, home of the Detroit Redwings.
- Paramount Builders won a $34.28 million contract from the state of West Virginia to renovate the eight-story Capitol Complex Building 3 of the state capitol that was built in 1951.
|News about public-private partnerships (P3)|
Partnership for management seeks to end negative activity in Seattle parks
Following a model in other parts of the country, some parks in Seattle are being turned over to private firms for management. To help with its efforts to clean up the downtown area, the city is entering into a trial contract with the private entity Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) for a one-year term for management of Westlake and Occidental parks. DSA will get assistance from Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Seattle Parks Foundation, Alliance for Pioneer Square and Friends of Waterfront Seattle. The city's part of this public-private partnership will be to put up $1 to every $10 spent by the DSA, or about $60,000 in taxpayer funds. The hope is that the new system will encourage more people to take advantage of the parks to reverse the trend of negative activity in the area and replace it with positive activities. The city and law enforcement have worked together to help rehabilitate the area and those who contribute to the negative activity of the area. In fact, some feel that private entities like DSA are better equipped to manage and enforce rules than the city.
Charity Hospital in New Orleans may get new life through partnership
As the economy in New Orleans continues to grow, a landmark that was on the brink of extinction could see new life. Investors are beginning to show interest in the old Charity Hospital, meaning that the facility that has been abandoned for 10 years could be revamped. Five development teams are interested in the property, and have proposed everything from a public-private partnership (P3) to the outright purchase of the facility from the state. One sees the property as an anchor for a new neighborhood to serve the growing medical industry there. That developer would create 450 apartments, 260,000 square feet of medical research and office space, a daycare center, shops and restaurants. The five proposals follow New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (pictured) giving up on his proposal to turn the hospital into a new government center that would include city hall offices and civil courtrooms. The project would have required $100 million in state funds that the state wouldn't commit. Charity's rich history ended when Hurricane Katrina hit the city and a new $1.1 billion University Medical Center turned Charity out to pasture. When Landrieu gave up on his proposal, the state issued a request for information suggesting a mixed-use project to gauge developer interest. If a P3 is considered, the state would follow with a request for proposals.
City in Kansas makes short list for possible new shipping center
A shipping center could be in the works for the city of Wellington, Kansas. The city is on a short list for a transloading and transmodal center that would allow for transfer of freight from rail to truck and truck to rail. In addition to commodities such as wheat being transferred, other freight such as aggregate, cement, asphalt and dirt could also be transferred. If Wellington were to be awarded the project, the state would provide a portion of the funding, but the remainder would have to be a public-private partnership. Wellington has a leg up on the project because it has access to both rail and major road transport. Two locations are being considered should the city be chosen for the project. One could go online immediately, while the other would require additional development.
City in Michigan exploring P3 for renovations projects at its Civic Center The city of Holland, Michigan, would have to come up with between $5 million and $8 million in public funds toward a public-private partnership with a goal of renovating and redeveloping the Holland Civic Center and surrounding area. A proposal under consideration would turn a parking lot next to the center into a reflection pool and winter skating rink, children's sculpture garden, performance stage, terraced seating area, a splash pad and more. The Farmers Market would also be expanded with green space added. "It will in large measure look and feel similar but look and feel so much better because it will not have the tired feel of a 60-year-old building," said outgoing Mayor Kurt Dykstra (pictured). The renovation is expected to cost $11 million, and an anonymous donation of $1 million has already been made. The renovations include about $9 million for interior improvements and $2 million for the outside of the facility. Included in the project are replacement of windows, ceiling repairs and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades. The Holland Civic Center hosts more 500 events each year and is also adjacent to the 8th Street Market, which hosts more than 80 local farmers and food artisans and attracts tens of thousands of people every year. Officials are hopeful the renovations will help attract concerts and conventions to the city, which will have a positive effect on the economy.
P3 in New York seeks to bring high-speed broadband to Brooklyn, Queens
New York City is making progress in its efforts to provide universal broadband access. The $5.4 million public-private partnership, Connect IBZ, will address broadband networks for three industrial business zones in those boroughs. It could affect up to 5,000 businesses in four neighborhoods. The city's contribution will be $1.6 million from the state's Connect NY broadband grant program. Two private-sector firms will provide the remainder of the funding. The old DSL copper lines will be abandoned for service that offers Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. Economic development officials say that using a public-private partnership will allow the city to leverage dollars and will mean greater connectivity for all kinds of businesses and will lead to continued growth while creating jobs. Estimates are that less than 3 percent of the more than 13,000 commercial buildings in Brooklyn are currently connected to broadband. One of the private firms will run a fiber backbone several miles to reach manufacturing businesses in sore need of faster Internet access.
|Where are they now?|
Are you a government official who has moved into a new position or to a new agency? Did you recently retire? Were you recently named to an executive-level position at a state-supported college, university or community college? Have you secured a new job as superintendent of a public school? If so, we'd like to hear from you - and so would your friends and colleagues - for our "Where Are They Now" column. Just drop us a line at email@example.com and let us know about your previous job and where you are now. This week we feature LaVerne Council.
A former public-sector corporate Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Johnson & Johnson and former Global Vice President for Information Technology, Global Business Solutions and Development Services, at Dell, LaVerne H. Council (pictured) was recently administered the oath of office as the Veteran's Administration (VA) assistant secretary for information and technology and the agency's chief information officer. Council's career includes global experience in information technology, supply chain strategy and business operations. She has also worked for a global business management consulting firm, where she focused on infrastructure engineering, networking, security and enterprise application interfaces. One of her key roles at the VA will be handling cybersecurity. The agency battles millions of malware attacks and other cyberthreats most months. Council was nominated in March by President Barack Obama to serve as VA's top tech official. The CIO spot has been officially vacant since February 2013, when former CIO Roger Baker left for the private sector. Council holds a bachelor's degree with highest honors from Western Illinois University, an M.B.A. from Illinois State University and was presented with a Doctor of Business Administration, Honoris Causa, from Drexel University.
|Opportunity of the week...|
High voter turnout led to passage of an $85.6 million school bond issue in a city in Kansas. Because of passage of the bond, the school district will be able to eliminate more than a dozen modular buildings being used for overflow students as a result of district growth. In addition to expansions and additions to existing facilities, the bond proceeds will also be used for storm safety and security needs at schools. Want to know more? Contact our Sales Team at 512-531-3900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kerri Stewart (top left), a former mayoral chief administrative officer and lobbyist, has been named by Jacksonville, Florida, Mayor-elect Lenny Curry as his chief of staff, joining Sam Mousa, chief administrative officer and Mike Weinstein, Curry's chief financial officer. Massachusetts CIO Bill Oates (top center), who began as CIO with the commonwealth in January of last year after serving as Boston's CIO for seven years, has announced his retirement. Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Chris Traylor named Chris Adams (top tight), former deputy commissioner of the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, as the newest member of the agency's executive leadership team by putting him in the position of Deputy Executive Commissioner of Transformation. David Hall, assistant superintendent of Lorain (Ohio) Schools, who is serving as the district's interim superintendent and has worked as an administrator since 1999, has been tapped as the new Oberlin Schools superintendent. Jim Bennett, who has three decades of municipal government experience and who most recently served as city manager on Presque Isle, Maine, has been appointed as the new city manager of Biddeford. Peachtree City, Georgia, has chosen Janet Moon, a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and most recently deputy chief of the Suwanee Police Department, as its first female police chief, replacing William McCollom, who resigned in March. The Kentucky Legislative Research Commission has begun its search for a permanent director to lead the 67-year-old institution after Interim Director Marcia Seiler (bottom right) announced her plans to retire at the end of July, saying that she will not seek the permanent director's job. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Maria Torres-Springer (bottom center), who has been running the city's Small Business Services agency, to be the first woman president of the Economic Development Corporation, which manages the city's assets and negotiates with companies seeking subsidies and other breaks. Lafayette Parish Superintendent Donald Aguillard has appointed Sandra Billeaudeau (bottom left), a 30-year veteran educator whose position as assistant superintendent was eliminated, as the district's planning administrator. After serving as assistant superintendent for Limestone County Schools for nearly three years, Rhonda Stringham has been chosen by the Geneva, Alabama, School Board as the district's new superintendent. Northampton, Massachusetts, Mayor David J. Narkewicz has appointed Assistant Fire Chief Duane Nichols, who has been with the city's Fire/Rescue Department for 28 years, to replace Chief Brian Duggan, who announced in April that he is retiring. Karen Ray, who joined the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's legal division in 2001 after six years with the Texas Office of the Attorney General, has been chosen as HHSC's Chief Counsel.
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|Calendar of events|
NASTD Annual Conference, Technology Showcase set for Cincinnati
The National Association of State Technology Directors (NASTD) 2015 Annual Conference and Technology Showcase is planned for Aug. 23-27 in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel. The theme of the event is "Collaboration Through Partnerships: Leveraging Core Competencies in State Government." The annual conference will feature presentations, panel discussions and roundtable discussions. Event topics will be across the spectrum of IT strategy and operations. Current challenges, management strategies, best practices, and state and federal initiatives will be included. There will be a panel discussion on cybersecurity, a session on State IT Workforce Challenges and Opportunities, a panel discussion on hybrid cloud services and a panel discussion on mobile device management. Registration is now open and the agenda is available.
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